Besides his delusional zero COVID fantasy, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards presses on with another pipe dream – Louisiana’s future energy production featuring zero carbon emissions that doesn’t cause significant hardship.
This week, Edwards announced that the state would join the United Nations’ “Race to Zero” campaign, as part of the organization’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. This dovetails with his executive order designed to drive the state to zero emissions by 2050 that also set up a task force to find ways to do that, whose report should arrive early next year.
Forget for the moment that the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming scenario on which Edwards has based all of this is scientific hogwash and concentrate instead on how ruinous the costs will be to achieve this, especially when compared with the consequences of the mythical apocalyptic scenario currently shopped around, and that even if zero emissions were achieved today everywhere (according to the CAGW methodology) that wouldn’t even reach the target for slowing the presumed rate of warming by the end of the century. In fact, not only no policy to achieve this does not create more impoverishment, but these choices also disproportionately hit poorer people harder.
That why last month’s Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries latest world energy trends of the future report as well as the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s version show worldwide not only will non-renewable energy, which produces emissions, not drop away, but also it actually will increase in use, just not as rapidly as renewables will. These predict that, understandably, less economically developed countries won’t deliberately impoverish their peoples at the behest of richer states unless the latter pays them off sufficiently to do so.
So, in order to hit the 2050 goal (again, keeping in mind this would do little to ameliorate alleged temperature increases through 2100 and electricity generation produces only about a quarter of emissions in the U.S.), Louisianans will have to fork over huge sums to much of the rest of the world, in addition to paying for the higher cost of increased renewable energy use.
And in the final analysis, it is higher – much higher. The latest EIA figures place combined cycle natural gas – in which Louisiana is awash and is a major generation source of its energy producers, both for retail and for private consumption – among dispatchable sources as the cheapest except for slightly less-expensive geothermal (not an option in most parts of the world). Among non-dispatchable types, onshore wind and solar come in 10-20 percent cheaper on a per unit basis. Future cost predictions basically keep this pecking order.
However, solar (as well as geothermal) have tax credits attached that if removed makes it roughly equivalent to the 10 percent gap with wind. Yet the real problem is that these two sources are non-dispatchable – they don’t respond in real time on demand because the sun only shines half the time (assuming good weather) and the wind varies considerably (making wind capture impractical in many locations). Thus, they require battery technology to have any reliability at all to serve as perfect substitutes for non-renewable energy sources.
And battery costs are enormous. A hybrid photovoltaic/battery system is a quarter more expensive than gas and still much less reliable because battery storage lasts only four hours. A battery array alone is nearly four time more expensive. If Louisiana tries to strongarm producers into renewable modes, costs to consumers will rise dramatically.
It doesn’t have necessarily have to take that approach – but that won’t avoid high costs. Carbon capture and sequestration strategies can allow for cheaper energy production by preventing or removing that element produced from nonrenewable sources. Unfortunately, these also cost tremendously; depending on how and where it occurs, anywhere from $30 to $300 a ton. This is why, assuming 60 percent of U.S. generation now coming from nonrenewable sources would go away by 2035 and the couple of trillion dollars that would cost just to roll out the replacement capacity gets spent, the annual costs until then to capture the carbon just from what would remain would cost $128 billion. All told, this strategy adds about $90 a month over that span to the typical American ratepayer’s bill – which would be higher in Louisiana given its lowest-in-the-nation energy costs.
This is what Edwards has in store for Louisianans if he gets his way, all the while slowing the alleged future temperature rise only somewhat (assuming every other state and country does the same; if not, the small impact will become smaller still). Fortunately, his order has no substantive effect without draconian changes in law that the Legislature and the voters than put them in office show no signs of stupidly enacting.